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Del Mar Oaks : Lizzy Hare, No Tortoise, Is the Winner

August 31, 1987|BILL CHRISTINE | Times Staff Writer

DEL MAR — The first time Gary Stevens ever rode Lizzy Hare, Aug. 14 at Del Mar, the 3-year-old filly sent the 24-year-old jockey to the hospital.

Lizzy Hare finished fourth in a division of the San Clemente Stakes that day, then stepped in a hole as she was being pulled up and stumbled, sending Stevens to the turf. Stevens suffered a concussion, had a headache and neck pains, but came back to ride the next day.

Lizzy Hare could be excused for what happened. She had been put on a plane from England to California, spent four days in quarantine and had never seen the Del Mar track until the day before the San Clemente.

"She didn't even know where she was," said Jeff Siegel, one of her 11 owners.

On Sunday, in the $171,800 Del Mar Oaks, Lizzy Hare was much more oriented and Stevens survived the day without a visit to his chiropractor brother-in-law. With Stevens, Del Mar's leading jockey, at the helm, Lizzy Hare worked her way through a 13-horse field to win the Oaks by three-quarters of a length over Chapel of Dreams before 24,946 fans.

Favored Chapel of Dreams, who had finished second in the other division of the San Clemente last time, went to her knees leaving the gate and recovered to still finish second, a neck better than Down Again, who had three-fourths of a length on 38-1 longshot Fraulein Lieber in the blanket finish.

Davie's Lamb, the 3-1 second choice, ran sixth, and Perchance To Dream, winner of the Hollywood Oaks and running on grass for the first time, finished 11th.

Lizzy Hare, running the 1 1/8 miles on grass in a slow 1:50 2/5, paid $16, $6.40 and $6. Chapel of Dreams' mutuels were $4.60 and $3.80 and Down Again, running as an entry with Develop, had a show price of $5.60.

Richard Cross trains both Lizzy Hare and Down Again and had much to do with the Clover Racing Stables acquiring Lizzy Hare and then getting the Del Mar stewards to permit her to run in the San Clemente, which was her prep for the Oaks.

Before coming to the United States, Cross assisted Luca Cumani, the noted European trainer who had handled Lizzy Hare when she ran 10th in her first career start and then won three straight races in England.

Siegel and Barry Irwin, the principal investors in Lizzy Hare, paid "in excess of $200,000" for the L'Enjoleur-Fleur de Mont filly, completing the deal the week before the San Clemente.

But the Del Mar stewards were going to require that Lizzy Hare have a workout over the track before she could run here. With the air trip and quarantine, that wasn't going to be possible, so Cross called Cumani--at 3 a.m., English time--and had him work her five-eighths of a mile over Lord Derby's training track--with left-handed turns--before she was put on the plane. That was enough to satisfy the Del Mar stewards.

Although Lizzy Hare got Stevens home in one piece this time, the Oaks was an adventure. On the first turn, Lizzy Hare was bumped hard by another horse. That left Lizzy Hare next to last.

She was still 10th, but only 5 1/2 lengths behind the front-running Hello Sweet Thing, after six furlongs.

"I had plenty of horse coming into the stretch," said Stevens, who with two other wins Sunday increased his lead to nine over Laffit Pincay, who was riding in Chicago.

"My filly accelerated and got through the hole," Stevens added. "If she didn't have that quick acceleration, she would never have gotten through."

Lizzy Hare made the lead with about a sixteenth of a mile left, earning $104,300 for the owners, who with their friends engulfed Merv Griffin in the winner's circle. Griffin, making the trophy presentation, probably never had this big of a studio audience.

Not unexpectedly, the race was roughly run. Del Mar had considered splitting the Oaks into divisions, but Tom Robbins, the track's racing secretary, decided to keep the field intact.

"My filly might have been best," said Chris McCarron, who rode Chapel of Dreams. "She stumbled leaving the gate, and then I had to lose a lot of ground on the last turn."

Rafael Meza, riding Down Again, was blocked on the far turn and then finished in the middle of the track. Misshigh Andmighty, who finished fifth, had a different problem. She was seen bleeding from the mouth after the race.

Siegel had owned Civic Leader, a useful colt out of Lizzy Hare's dam. Irwin said that this was the first time he and Siegel had spent a lot of money for a horse sight unseen.

Before the Oaks, the owners were looking ahead to a stake at Louisiana Downs. But their ambitions are loftier now, and Lizzy Hare may race next at Oak Tree's meeting at Santa Anita in October-November.

If there was a drawback to Sunday's win, it was that Lizzy Hare's group had agreed to pay her previous owners $25,000 if she won an important race here.

"But we'll pay the $25,000," Irwin said. "Gladly."

Horse Racing Notes

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